Immigrants face new 'British values test' to become UK citizens, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announces

Existing 'Life in the UK' test – which quizzes immigrants on history, traditions and everyday life – criticised in speech as like 'a pub quiz'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 02 October 2018 12:40 BST
People applying to be a UK citizen will have to pass a new 'British values test', says Sajid Javid

Immigrants will have to pass a new “British values test” to become UK citizens and speak English to a higher standard, the home secretary has announced.

Sajid Javid criticised the current test – which quizzes immigrants on history, traditions and everyday life – as too much like “a pub quiz”.

Speaking to the Tory conference, Mr Javid insisted British people “welcome newcomers”, but added: “The existing Life in the UK test for new citizens is not enough.

“Maybe it is helpful for people to know the name of the sixth wife of Henry VIII but, far more important to me, is that they also understand the liberal, democratic values that bind our society together.

Citizenship should mean more than being able to win a pub quiz. We need to make it a British values test – and that’s exactly what I will bring in.”

On speaking English, Mr Javid added: “How can we possibly make a common home together if we can’t even communicate with each other?

“So not only will there be a new values test, but we will also strengthen the English language requirements for all new citizens.”

In his speech, the home secretary also announced he would strip dual nationals of their UK citizenship if they were involved in gangs that sexually exploit children.

“In recent years, we have exercised this power for terrorists who are a threat to the country,” he said.

“Our message to the very worst criminals is clear – if you grossly abuse the laws of this country, you will no longer be welcome in our home.”

And he pledged tougher measures to crack down on forced marriage, including refusing entry to immigrants “where there is evidence that the marriage is forced”.

Evidence of forced marriage given anonymously would also be “admissible as closed evidence in the visa appeals process”.

Forced marriage is already an offence, with a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

“When women have the courage to come forward and inform us that they have been forced to sponsor a spousal visa against their will, we will not only protect their anonymity, but we will do everything we can to deny or revoke that visa.

“It is not liberal to stay silent about illiberal practices – that’s just weakness.”

Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow home secretary, poured scorn on the idea of a British values test, saying: “It’s not clear this is any improvement on Theresa May’s derided ‘British values’ test in 2015, or even Norman Tebbit’s earlier cricket test.

“The idea that a government whose hostile environment policy and handling of the Windrush scandal has brought shame to the country, should be defining British values is deeply worrying.”

Mr Javid also launched a fierce attack on Jeremy Corbyn, branding him a “threat to our national security”.

“Imagine having someone in No 10 who has voted against vital counterterrorism legislation, someone who refuses to condemn the Kremlin over an attack on our soil,” he said.

“Someone who seriously suggested sending a nerve agent sample to Vladimir Putin, to see if the Russians could tell us what it was. Who compared the actions of the US military, our closest ally, to Daesh [as Isis is also known].”

Mr Javid added: “If Mr Corbyn were ever to be prime minister this behaviour wouldn’t just be naive, it wouldn’t just be misguided, it would be downright dangerous. And it is our duty to stop him.”

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